Initially, the story of the Great Japanese Dog (formerly American Akita) is similar to the one of Japanese Akita.
ORIGIN: JAPAN (selected in the United States)
USE: Companion and service dog
Group 5: Spitz and primitive type dogs
Section 5/A: Asian Spitz and related breeds.
Since the 17th century, in the region of Akita, the “Akita Matagis” (or bear hunting dogs) were used as fighting dogs. Since 1868, the “Akita Matagis” were crossed with the Tosa and Mastiff breeds, so that their size grew, at the expense of other characteristics typical of Spitz-type dogs. In 1908, dogfights were banned, however the breed was preserved and improved, leading to the birth of a great Japanese dog and nine master race examples were designated as “National Monument”.
During World War II (1941-1945) this breed, like many others, was at risk of extinction, because their pelts were used to manufacture military clothing. It was however saved by some enthusiasts that crossed it with the German Shepherd that was used for military purposes.
After the war, there were several crossings with different breeds, which made this dog very popular, but led to a very confused situation with the existence of three distinct types:
1) Matagi Akita
2) Akita for fighting
3) Akita Shepherd
However, some well-known enthusiasts refused this kind of crossbreed and continued maintaining the purebred characters, until it stabilized in today’s well-known great-sized Akita. After the war, during the process of purebred restore, Kongo-go of Dewa line had a temporary, yet immense popularity.
Many Dewa-line Akita, which had Mastiff and German Shepherd characteristics, were brought into the United States by military members. The Dewa-line Akita, intelligent and able to adapt to many different environments, enchanted the United States breeders and the line was developed with a growing number of breeders and popularity.
The Akita club of America was founded in 1956 and the American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the breed (registration on the genealogical book and regular status in exhibitions) in October 1972. However, at that time, the AKC and the JKC Japan Kennel Club did not agree on accepting the breeds, therefore no new blood lines were imported from Japan.
Consequently, the American Akita became noticeably different from that of Japan, his country of origin. Since 1955, the United States developed a unique breed with unchanged characteristics and types.
This is in sharp contrast with Japanese Akita that were crossbred with Matagi Akita in order to restore the original pure breed.